Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Category Archives: Defense of Marriage Act

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Is a Qualified Retirement Plan Required to Apply Windsor Retroactively?

Following the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in U.S. v. Windsor (in which the Court held that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) was unconstitutional), one of the questions facing sponsors of tax-qualified retirement plans was whether the plans were required to recognize same-sex spouses on a retroactive basis for purposes of … Continue Reading

IRS Notice 2015-86 — The Limited Effect of Obergefell

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2015-86, providing guidance on the application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to qualified retirement plans and health and welfare plans, including cafeteria plans.  Importantly, and as expected, the IRS comments in the Notice that it does not anticipate that Obergefell will … Continue Reading

More Post-Windsor Tax Guidance: IRS Issues Letter Outlining Steps for Individuals to Obtain Tax Refunds for Same-Sex Spousal Health Coverage

July 21, 2014 On June 27, 2014, the IRS published a letter outlining the steps taxpayers should take in order to obtain a refund for taxes paid on the value of employer-sponsored health coverage provided to an employee’s same-sex spouse.  The letter, originally dated February 24, 2014, is in response to an inquiry from Rep. … Continue Reading

New IRS Guidance Relating to Same-Sex Spouses and Qualified Retirement Plan Benefits

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in U.S. v. Windsor) that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, the IRS announced that same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes and provided guidance relating to the impact of Windsor on certain types of employee benefits.  At the same … Continue Reading

High Court Employee Benefits Cases: A Review and Look Ahead

Having settled into the new year, we reflect on decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 that are likely to have a significant impact in the world of pension and welfare employee benefits and, in some cases, already have had such an impact. The issues addressed by the Supreme Court are wide ranging and … Continue Reading

More Post-Windsor Guidance from the IRS Relating to Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses: Cafeteria Plan Changes, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision that repealed Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex spouses were not recognized as spouses for federal tax and benefits purposes.  In the immediate aftermath of Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which stated the IRS position that, for … Continue Reading

Federal District Court (In Its Capacity As An Employer) Must Reimburse Employee for the Cost of Health Benefits for her Same-Sex Domestic Partner

The Ninth Circuit Judicial Council, an administrative body that reviews decisions of the court’s chief judge, recently weighed in on an issue involving same-sex domestic partner health benefits in the post-Windsor world.  The decision is interesting insofar as it relies at least partially on the Windsor decision in awarding “spousal” benefits to an unmarried same-sex … Continue Reading

Additional Post-Windsor Guidance – IRS Releases Optional Streamlined Procedures for Employers to Make Claims for Refunds or Adjustment of Overpaid Employment Taxes on the Value of Benefits Provided to Employees’ Same-Sex Spouses

Continuing its implementation of the United States Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued Notice 2013-61, which provides guidance for employers to make claims for refunds or adjustments of overpayments of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and Federal income tax withholding (employment taxes) for 2013 and prior years … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Announces a “Place of Celebration” Rule in Implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision With Regard to Employee Benefit Plans

A few weeks after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated that it will apply a “place of celebration” rule in recognizing same-sex spouses for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code (including with respect to employee benefit plans), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it too will interpret the term “spouse” as including … Continue Reading

The Post-DOMA World Relating to ERISA-Governed Employee Benefit Plans

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), in which the Court held that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) was unconstitutional, same-sex marriages will be recognized for purposes of federal laws, protections, and obligations.  Because the Court did not … Continue Reading

IRS Adopts a “Place of Celebration” Rule in Implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor Decision

On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued important guidance for employers and employees relating to the impact of the Windsor decision on employee benefit plans. In Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the agencies ruled that a same-sex couple legally married in any jurisdiction will be recognized as spouses … Continue Reading

The Impact of Windsor on Social Security Benefits and FMLA Rights

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, which struck the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provision limiting marriage to opposite sex spouses, the government agencies have been working on updating guidance in a number of areas. Two recent updates are noteworthy: Social Security Benefits — The Social Security Administration has … Continue Reading

First Post-Windsor ERISA Decision

In the first reported ERISA decision post-Windsor, the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held (in Cozen O’Connor, P.C. v. Jennifer Tobits) that a same-sex spouse is to be treated as the decedent’s lawful spouse for purposes of entitlement to death benefits under a retirement plan. In reaching its decision, the court … Continue Reading

Proskauer Webinar on Supreme Court DOMA Decision

Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional. Please join Proskauer’s DOMA Task Force on Wednesday, July 17th at 1:00pm EST for a webinar discussing the impact of the Court’s decision on employer-provided benefits. Registration details are listed below. Please follow these steps to register for the webinar or webinars you would … Continue Reading

DOMA Held Unconstitutional

The Defense of Marriage Act, which defines “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners, was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court today in a 5-4 decision on equal protection grounds.  Stay tuned for information about our upcoming Webinar regarding the impact of the Court’s decision on employer-provided benefits.  We will also post a link … Continue Reading

Health Benefits Provided to Same-Sex Spouses

As we await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which may come as early as this week, many employers are considering the potential impact that the decision may have on the health benefits that they provide to their employees, regardless of whether they currently offer health benefits to their employees’ … Continue Reading

The Future of Domestic Partner Health Benefits

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional in Windsor v. U.S., which is expected to be decided this month, will employers that offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners cease offering “domestic partner” benefits separately from benefits for employees and their spouses? Currently, one rationale … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Decision on DOMA May Impact Status of Children of Same-Sex Spouses for Employee Benefits Purposes

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage at the federal level as a legal union between one man and one woman and excuses states from any obligation to recognize same-sex marriages recognized in any other state. As a result, many states have enacted so-called “mini-DOMA” laws providing that those states will not recognize for … Continue Reading

Proskauer’s DOMA Task Force

Proskauer’s Employee Benefits Practice Center’s DOMA Task Force, which is comprised of lawyers from our offices nationwide, regularly advises employers and other plan sponsors on the myriad benefits issues that arise in the context of domestic partner benefits. As more states legalize same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue a decision … Continue Reading
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